Thanksgiving potatoes are boring. If you 鈥檙 e serving the same mashed potatoes year-after-year, you know what I 鈥檓 talking about. Do you have relatives that insist on the same old menu each holiday? Will Aunt Francis refuse to attend if you don 鈥 檛 serve the family mashed potato recipe? Face it, tradition always gets in the way of innovation. I want to share some ideas, inspirations, and methods from the professional kitchen that will become the start of a new holiday tradition this year. As a child, my family tradition was the 鈥 渢 wice baked 鈥 ?potato. This thanksgiving potato standard in my home was baked, mashed with butter, and returned to the skins to bake again. The thing I like about this type of potato dish is that it 鈥檚 already mashed and flavored before the table. I hate 鈥減 otato surprise 鈥? That 鈥檚 when you cut an X in your baked potato; squeeze the sides, and surprise, the potato squishes out. Now, you have to wrestle with the butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, cheese, and other condiments to get them mashed on your plate. It 鈥檚 a horrible mess! My favorite 鈥渘 ew 鈥?potato dish is actually hundreds of years old. Duchesse Potatoes are simply mashed potatoes stiffened with egg yolks and molded into forms with a pastry bag. Start a new thanksgiving potato tradition by peeling, dicing, and simmering potatoes in liquid until they are very soft and crush easily under a fork. Drain the liquid and spread the potatoes on a baking sheet to be further dried in a 250F (121C) oven. Fully drying the potatoes is important to have them hold their shape when baked. Duchesse Potatoes are special because they hold their shape. Egg yolks give them structure that makes this happen. I use 2 egg yolks per pound of cooked potatoes along with some salt and pepper. The most important part of this procedure is that the potatoes must be fully cooled to below 165F (74C), the temperature at which the egg proteins will coagulate, making scrambled eggs. The cooled potatoes are pureed in a food processor, slowly adding the egg yolks to combine. They should be sticky and look more like dough than mashed potatoes. If your Duchesse Potatoes are too wet, they won 鈥檛 hold their shape on baking. Using a pastry bag, I pipe out spirals of potatoes on top of themselves that resemble small Christmas Trees. If I were to add green chives and red pimentos, I 鈥檇 have a festive holiday plate-appeal. The real advantage to Duchesse Potatoes as your new tradition is that you 鈥檝 e created specific portions of thanksgiving potatoes instead of letting your guests shovel from a large, undefined bowl of mashed potatoes. This saves time, food, and money. Duchesse Potatoes can be a new thanksgiving potato tradition in your household. They 鈥檙 e cooler than creamed, more magical than mashed, and beat baked any day of the year. You 鈥檒 l just have to give Aunt Francis a big apology for the new inspirations on the table. The times-are-a-changin 鈥? Aunt Francis. Author Box: See the Thanksgiving potatoesto by clicking here. Chef Todd Mohr has freed thousands of people from the frustration of written recipes with his online cooking classes. The Chef 鈥檚 cooking DVD series 鈥淏 urn Your Recipes 鈥?empowers people to cook with basic methods and the ingredients they desire.
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